More than 400 people braved snow flurries and freezing temperatures Friday to dream about spring.

College of the Ozarks Athletic Director Al Waller led the crowd in a cheer during the kickoff event for Ozark Mountain Spring at Branson Convention Center.

“Ten years ago, most Branson businesses didn’t open their doors until April,” Waller said. “While the (NAIA D-II) national tournament has helped the tourism season start earlier in March, this new idea will hopefully solidify March as the kickoff to the tourism season.”

Waller was one of several area community and business leaders speaking on behalf of Ozark Mountain Spring, a new marketing effort involving more than 40 events from March through April.

The events will be highlighted by an appearance from Al Roker, of the “Today Show.” Called America’s favorite weatherman, Roker will be in town to judge the Great American Pie Show.

“Perhaps it’s time for a change,” said Mary Kellogg, with the Titanic Museum. “We have the opportunity to promote something new, which involves the basics of our economy — great shows, restaurants, lodging and attractions.”

The Branson Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce has worked on the idea since August.

“We’ve actually been looking for a new spring concept for several years,” said Ross Summers, the chamber’s president and CEO. “It is very encouraging to see this many folks show up. The community is looking for something new and support is crucial.”

Information courtesy of Branson Daily News